Healthier Cooking: Quinoa with Black Beans and Sole

25 03 2009

Yeah, it’s March. Shouldn’t I be talking about healthier eating in January? Well, I’ve been trying hard to keep up with some leaner meats and even a couple of meatless meals every week. So far, I’ve done okay. My problem is that I really dislike whole grains. I don’t like brown rice, it’s too crunchy and watery tasting. In general, I’ll reject whole grains unless I’m trying reeeeeeeeeeally hard to be good. This meal certainly helps, it is extremely tasty and very healthy!

Quinoa is a whole grain that is similar to brown rice in texture. But the flavor is far more robust and nuttier, in my opinion. It contains a high amount of protein, fiber, and essential amino acids among many other tidbits of goodness.

Every time I’ve made it, I’ve ended up with a different version, and each one is just as tasty! I can pull this whole meal together in about 30 minutes if I’m prepared and work quickly. It’s more comfortable in about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. This recipe is mine and obviously not as professionally put together as a real recipe, but its in the order I do it to make it speedier.

1 cup quinoa (see notes)
2 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans
2 tomatoes
1/2 bunch asparagus
1 bunch of rainbow chard
1 lb white flaky fish (see notes)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced, separated
black pepper
2 lemons, halved
olive oil

1) Mince the garlic, wash and cut the chard and get your spices out and ready for use
2) Rinse one cup of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) under cold water
2) Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large, flat skillet over medium heat
3) Then go prepare the fish by laying it out on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt, freshly cracked black pepper, cumin, and paprika (I’m liberal with the spices to go for a bit of a blackened effect on the fish). Set fish aside, you can leave it out for this short window of time.
4) Oil should be hot in the pan. Toss in one of the minced cloves of garlic. Let it sizzle for a bit in the pan until it is fragrant.
5) Toss in the quinoa and let it toast, stirring occasionally.
6) Heat another 1 Tbsp of olive oil in another large skillet for the fish.
7) Pour rinsed black beans into small sauce pot with the juice of one lemon half, some cumin, salt, and pepper. Top with tomatoes and bite sized asparagus spears. Let sit on stove on medium heat until heated all the way through.
8 ) Pour 2 cups of broth over the quinoa once it is golden in color. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
9) Place fish in hot oil and let sit. You will cook each side 4-5 minutes, depending on the fish (in this case, I used Dover Sole). Sprinkle lemon juice over filets while they are cooking.
10) Once the fish is done, toss the chard in that pan and let it wilt (will take 2-5 minutes). Sprinkle with lemon.


all a bubblin on the stove!

Time for plating! I always pour the quinoa into a big dish, put the chard next to it, place the fish fillets on top and then spoon on the black bean mixture.


quinoa with black beans, rainbow chard and sole

Notes: I have used Ling Cod, Dover Sole, and Halibut. My favorite for this dish is Dover Sole. I’ve also made it without the chard or asparagus. Just black bean and tomato is really, really good. I just had some veggies hitting the end of their life so they get thrown in. Also, I’ve been using the organic quinoa from Costco and have found it takes a little longer to cook than I usually like. It also just has a different taste. I prefer the brand from my grocery’s bulk bin, whatever that is.

Enjoy! It’s a delicious and extremely healthy meal!!


24 03 2009

I was headed to the nursery last Saturday morning to track down a few of the plants that will be safe to plant in this “winter is officially over, but not really at all” period we call early spring. I’ve been obsessing over our side yard. It’s pretty visible and chock full of nasty weeds. The previous owner was a fan of purchasing the wild flower packets and just tossing them around over there. Fun.

I’ve spent about 10 hours in the side yard weeding and cleaning out the beds in the last week, I have about 1/4 of it left. But I couldn’t help myself. I planted some ground cover in a space too small to grow anything productive and some ranunculus (like my mom’s) in the most visible part. I’ll try to remember to snap some pictures tomorrow when I’m out there.

Anyway, I’m full of distractions, aren’t I?

I got “lost” on the way to the nursery. The mountains were calling my name and I drove all through a beautiful neighborhood trying to find the perfect place to stop for a picture. An hour later, I made it to the nursery. An hour after that, I left. Feeling satisfied, but without purchasing a thing. I love browsing the nursery.


olympic mountains from blue ridge


that edge of a yard is inspiring. i want a weeping miniature tree!

 Ok. Back to … what was I doing again?

Winter, you have five days…

15 03 2009

This time of year is always rough for me. We get these AWESOME teaser days where it is 60, sunny, fabulous. Then we flip flop back to winter. I’m not one to complain much about the weather in Seattle, I prefer the four distinct seasons, I love the rain, and the summers — oh, the summers — have possibly won me over to be a long time Washingtonian.

Last weekend we went on a walk around Greenlake and took in what was shaping up to be a perfect early spring day. I got some spring garden inspiration as I’m embarking on a new flower bed this summer!


greenlake rock bed with perrenials, annuals and ferns


crocuses and primroses


daffodils beginning to show their faces

Then, less than 24 hours later, on my way out to the burbs this happens.


520 just east of lake washington. yes, i am a danger to society.

What’s with this? Come on winter, give it up! I think we’ve had a total of 20 or so snow days in Seattle this year.


everyone is leaving work, yet i'm going in. hmmmm.

I officially have Spring Fever!

Another Reason to Love Seattle

12 03 2009

Ballard is a very charming neighborhood just northwest of downtown, not too far from our hood. Some would consider us to live in Ballard. It was settled in the 1800s by Scandinavian fishermen and boat builders. There are still many Scandinavian people residing in the neighborhood, and some old haunts such as The Viking that feel (and smell — in a good way) like they’ve been around a hundred years. Today’s Ballard is quite changed. In the 1990’s it became the new hot spot to purchase an affordable home “in the city.” It is now a neighborhood full of hip little shops, restaurants, bars, and parks. We frequent many of the establishments often and really love the neighborhood.

Down by the Ballard Bridge (which takes traffic from downtown over Salmon Bay into northern parts of Seattle), a new mixed use retail space was going up a few years ago. The developers did what they always do, bought out the homeowners for exorbitant amounts of money and built a big concrete building with a new Trader Joe’s, LA Fitness, Chipotle (defunct before they even finished it), etc.

One woman, Edith Macefield, decided to stand her ground. She’d lived in her 1900 home since 1966 and was not about to let it go. Not even for $1,000,000.

“I don’t want to move. I don’t need the money. Money doesn’t mean anything.” 

Well, Edith passed on last June and had no family remaining. She willed her precious 1900 home to the contracting supervisor of the construction site. In the past few weeks, both the LA Fitness and Trader Joe’s have opened for business. Edith’s house is still standing. A little awkward there, but standing.


Photo Taken from

Note how selfish many of my posts are – I want the city to stay the same as it was when I moved here (almost 8 years ago). I can’t imagine how Edith must have felt watching old, crusty fisherman Ballard turn into “yuppie-ville.” Sometimes I wonder if we were all a little more like Edith we wouldn’t be in today’s economic crisis.

I’m interested to see in the coming year what will become of Edith’s. Some are hoping the developer will sell it to someone to turn it into a homey pub. Some have even suggested hiring the Cheers bartender who was recently laid off in Boston. Whatever becomes of it, I hope they keep it. It is a shining light of a really passionate and determined woman who wouldn’t let anyone tell her what to do. Rest in peace, Edith.

Camp L-Pod 2009: Days 3&4

3 03 2009

Day 3 was another early morning. Abby & PopPop decided to hang out on Mel’s bed and watch Elmo.


abby jabber

After breakfast, we took a trip out to the Ballard Locks to watch the boats pass through to the Sound and check out the fish ladder. Not many fish passing through this time of year, but it was still fun!


crossing one of the locks bridges

We then played in some of the gardens where Abby met some new friends. Like I said yesterday, she doesn’t know a stranger.


slowly approaching

An attempt at a sisters pic. My eyes were closed, it was bright!


there are five girls in this picture!

We also learned a lot about the different types of salmon and their cycle through the oceans and rivers.


is pop pop recruiting a fisherwoman?

Two of the big cedars at the entrance to the locks. She was copying Scott after he went up to feel the branches. She loved the smell.


is it Christmas?

We had a long couple of days. Sometime after dinner we all played in the kitchen for a little longer.


tired girl

 Day 4 was mostly consumed by packing and breakfast eating. We managed to get some family pictures in!


attempt 1




 I’m so glad everyone made the trip.


two of my favorite people

What a fun weekend, thank you all for making the journey! Next stop San Antonio! We miss you and love you!